The annual in-state rivalry game with Georgia Tech (6-3) has not been kind to Coach Mark Fox in recent years. Prior to last year’s win in Athens, a game in which J.J. Frazier scored 35 points, Georgia (7-3) had lost four in a row to the Jackets. With losses already to Clemson, Kansas and Marquette, the Dawgs are running out of opportunities for solid non-conference wins, meaning that Tuesday’s contest against the Jackets is one that Fox’s team must have.
Georgia Tech, who was projected by both SI and USA Today to finish 14th in the new 15-team ACC this year, has endured a rocky start to the season. After needing overtime to win their exhibition game against Shorter, the Jackets won 4 of 5 to start the season. The problem, however, was that the lone loss came at home to Ohio. Tech has dropped road games at both Penn State and Tennessee, yet they somehow pulled off a shocker at VCU, upending the Rams 76-73 in OT.
Coach Josh Pastner did not inherit a lot to work with for his initial campaign as the Jackets’ skipper. Tech returned just one starter this season – Quinton Stephens – and he only netted 5 points a game a year ago. This season, though, Stephens has been getting almost 12 points and 8 rebounds a night.
The surprise of the year thus far for Pastner has to be the play of center Ben Lammers, who is leading this team in both scoring and rebounding. After averaging just 3.6 points and 4 boards a night last year, Lammers is pouring in 15 points and 11 rebounds per game this season. Lammers is an excellent passer, and at 6’10”, he can can see the whole floor when he has the ball at the top of the key, where Tech likes to run a lot of its offense.
The most talented guard on the Jackets roster has to be junior Tadric Jackson, who is scoring just under 13 points a contest. The former 4-star recruit out of Tift County spurned an offer from UGA and wound up going to school in Atlanta instead. This season, Tech is 4-1 in games in which Jackson has scored in double-figures; they are 1-2 in the games that he has failed to eclipse the 10-point mark.
This Tech team is not afraid to press full court defensively, which is something that Georgia has not see a lot of so far this season. The Dawgs should definitely expect to see full court pressure on Tuesday, as Pastner will want to make it as difficult as possible for UGA to dump the ball down into Maten in the half court set.
While its unreasonable to demand another 35 points out of Frazier, Coach Fox must get better play from his senior guard. J.J. has shot over 40% from the floor in only 4 of the team’s 10 games this year, and if Georgia hopes to sneak out of Midtown with a win they are going to need Frazier to shoot it well Tuesday night.